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Buffalo burgers big business in Montgomery County

It's been known as the Brush Creek Buffalo Store for years, when the original owner raised the buffalo himself and sold the meat. The animals are still raised locally, but it's called the "Buffalo & More Restaurant" now.

February 21, 2011|Holly Pietrzak | New River Valley Bureau Chief

RINER, Va. — Along Route 8 in Riner, you'll spot a place where the burgers come from locally raised buffalo. 

It's been known as the Brush Creek Buffalo Store for years, when the original owner raised the buffalo himself and sold the meat.  The animals are still raised locally, but it's called the "Buffalo & More Restaurant" now.

Connie Hale is the owner.

"All my friends, family, everybody and me, I've always cooked for them," said Hale.

The restaurant has changed hands a few times in recent years.  Hale knew the time was right for her in 2008 when she gave up her work with Fed Ex to give the restaurant business a whirl.  The economy was in the dumps, but Hale had high hopes.

"With a business like this, you've got to put your heart and soul into it.  You have to give it 100 percent dedication.  And if you don't do that, you're not going to be successful," said Hale.

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She did, the customers came and spread the word.

"Wanted to support local business and as it turns out, it's real good food...so that works out," said Jim Kern, Radford.

"It's pretty impressive that they've been able to not only keep it going but it looks like it's growing," said Phil McClellan, Montgomery County.

Hale says her steady customer base helped her increase the number of employees from three to seven.  The restaurant has been given a facelift, the menu expanded.

Besides ordering freshly cooked meals, you can buy buffalo meat by the pound.

"The buffalo meat is so much higher in iron, so much lower in cholesterol, so much leaner in fat than even boneless, skinless chicken even in salmon, pork," said Hale.

Hale's biggest secret to small business survival isn't something that is taught.

"Let them know, 'Hey I care about you,' you know, and I want you to be happy and comfortable here," said Hale.

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